William Nicholls.

A Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) online

. (page 19 of 47)
Online LibraryWilliam NichollsA Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) → online text (page 19 of 47)
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ty, falling into a Trance, but hofving his Eyes open. Numb.
xxiv. 4. Now methinks it is a little unfair, for you to
make fuch an Outcry about God*s particular Favour to you
by Revelation , \vlicn thofe very reyealed Scriptures them-

' ~ ~ fdves^

Part II. ''Mth ^ 1 HEIST, ao^

felves, which you make fuch Brags oft allow it to the
Heathen as v/ell as you.

Cred, One can hardly think you Theifts are in earned, NoRevehu
when you objed againft the Scriptures and our Religion, ^'on to the
that God has revealed himfelf to other Nations as well as ^//.^['i/Jl^
us ; I always take you to have a Mind only to be pleafant, ail^u.
and to put a Banter upon us Chriftians, rather than to de-
fend your own Tenets, which do not feem much to be
furthered by it. And when Spinofa contends fo mightily
for it, I fancy it muft be only an humorfom Paradox of
that odd Man, and not his (ctled Opinion ; or at leail
the EfFed of a Pique he had conceived again ft the Jews,
and fo was refolved to fet them upon the fame Foot with
other Mortals. But that the reft of the World have no
Revelation for the diverfc Religions they profefs, will ap-
pear by confidering,

I. That moft of the Religions in the World are ido- BecMufe
latrous. Now it is impoffible to fippofe, that God by ''^^^^^^^^^^*
a Revelation fliould com.mand Men to do that, which all
wife Men would be aihamed to do ; to fall down before
Stocks and Stones, to worihip the Sun and the Moon,
fenfelefs inanimate Creatures, and to adore dead Men,
and tyrannical Princes ; or even Herbs or Beafts. Now
though v/e fliould fuppofe, that God was in no Ways
jealous of his Honour, and that it was indifferent to him
whatfoever Thing we worfhiped ; yet as he is the God
o^ Truth, 'tis impoffible he fliould comm.and a falfeWcF-
fhip, or inftrud: People in paying Devotion to Things as
Gods, which are only mean, and perhaps wicked Crea-
tures. Now the far greateft Part of the unchriftian World
are, and have been, fuch Idolatei's ; and therefore to make
God to iiave revealed to them their Siiperftitions, is to
make God to reprefent himfelf fuch as it is impoffible for
him to be ; to be delighted in a Worfhip which is falie
and wicked, and to be himfelf the chief Author of the
Impofture ; which is fo horrid, as no Body will con«
tend for.

z. Other unchriftian Nations that are not Idolaters (as TmmomU
chiefly the Mahometans) profefs a F^eligion which allows


ac4 A Conference

Immorality, the Founder whereof was rather poflefled by
the Devil, than infpired by God : A lewd debauched fa-
natical Wretch, that lived by Rapine and Murther, and
fpent his Days in Whoredom, Adulteries, and Sodomies.
Now his Religion allows its Followers to propagate it by
the Blood of the Oppofers, and by all Manner of Cruelty
and Barbarity againft IVIen of other Perfuafions. It al-
lows Concubinacy and Whoredom, and even Sodomy it
felf ; and the very Rewards it propofes in another World,
are fuch infamous Lufts, as a good Man would be afham-
ed to thinlv of in this. 3 . As for your Inftances out of
Scripture, becaufe you fhould not too much infult over
us, as having wounded us with our own Weapons, will
you be pleafed to accept this Anfwer to the firft. That
Melchifedeck^k no Proof of a Revelation among the Gen-
tiles, more than of that univerfal Revelation, which v/as
given by ^d^m and NoaJo^ to all Mankind ; and upon
which, as was Ihewn before, what is generally called na-
tural Religion is grounded upon. For though Melchi-
fedeck^ was no Jew, as not defccnding from Abraham ;
yet he was not properly a Gentile, efpecially fuch a one
as is ufually underftood by the Word, viz., one that has
degenerated from the ancient and true Religion, into an
idolatrous Superftition. For Melchifedeck^ was a true
and orthodox Member of the ancient Noachicd Church,
and no Ways tindured with the prevailing idolati'ous
Vice of thofe Ages, but in the midft of the mighty
Defecftion to falfe Gods and Idols, was a Pricfi of the mofi
high God, So that 'tis a great Miftake to fay. That God
had a Priefthood among the Gentiles, from the In-
i^zncc of Afeichijedeck^ ; becaufe, I fay, Melchifedeck^w^s
no Gentile, but a conftant Perfeverer in God's Church;,
from which the Gentiles had even at that Time made a
Defedion ; he kept up to the Noachicd Precepts, which
the Gentiles round him had neglecfled. But if in ftrift
fpeaking you will have him a Gentile, becaufe he was not
circumcifed, it does not from hence follow, that God
had an inftituted Church among other Nations, diftindly
jpftituted as the Jewiih was. For the Scripture does not

Part IL "With ^ T H E I s T. :2o5

give Us a particular Account who this Melchlfedeck^ was.
The Jews will have him to be Shem^ the eldeft Son o(
Noahy becaiife perhaps, they would allow no Body elfe
to be greater than tneir Father Ahmhamy to blefs him :
But though this does well enough agree with the Age of
Shem^ who lived till after Abraham's Time ; yet it is not
probable that Shem dwelt in the Land of Canaan', which
was the Seat of Cham's Pofterity. But be he Shem^ or
any one elfe, and though he were a Worfhiper of the
true God, yet he was fo only upon the Principles of the
old Revelation made to Noah^ which was common to all
the World with him : He had not any particular iLeve-
lations afforded him, as Mofesy to found a new Church
upon ; neither he nor his People had any fuch Favour
vouchfafed them, as to have the Oracles of God committed
to themy as the Jews had, Rom. iii. 2. He was a Prieft
as he was the Elder of a Family in the old patriarchal
Way, and not by any pofitive Inftitution among the
Gentiles; and fo bleffed Abraham who communicated
with him in the divine Worfhip whilft he did officiate,
as he might have done with Abraham in fuch an eucha-
riftical, or any other Sacrifice. 4. As for that Text of
Malachi, where it is faid. That God's Name fiall be great
among the Gentiles ; (though Spino/a tranflates, it is great
among the Gentiles, when the Verb is wanting in the He»
breiVy which is wrong, for the Book is Prophetick, and
fpeaks of Futures, and therefore muft be rcndred fiall be)
this does by no Means fet the Gentiles at that Time on a
Level with the Jews, but is a remarkable Prophecy of the
Kingdom ofthcMeffias, when the Partition- Wall fhould
be taken away, and God fhould have one Church made
up both of Jews and Gentiles. 5. As to thofe Places of
the Pfilmifly That Gods tender Afercies are over all his
TVorkl ', and that God is nigh unto all them that Q^ll upon him :
It is the Defign of the Pfalmijly to Ihew forth God's fu-
perlative Goodnefs in this P/^/w, and therefore among the
reft of God's Attributes, he does praife him for his merci-
ful Providence over his Creatures, His tender Mercies are
Qver all his Worhi* And fo his being nigh unto all thm that

'*ic6 A Conference

' call upon him, does not in tlie lead: denote any particular
divine InfHtution like the Jewifli Revelation among the
Heathen, but is only in genera), an AfTertion of God's
univevfal Love to Mankind, and his Willingnefs to affift
them, which no reafonable Man can deny. 6, As for
your Inftance in Joby That he was agood A4an and accept
table to God ; why, fo were all the good Patriarchs before
the Law, or the CircumciHon ; nay, though we lliould
grant that God fpake by Revelation to this good Man^
as it may appear from Chap, xxxviii. i . yet it does not
follow, that all the idolatrous Heathens afterwards received
the fame Favour. For before the Law, and in other Nations:,
where the Law was not received^ Morality, together
\vith the eafy Noachkal Precepts, wei-e the Rule of their
Duty ; and therefore until they had forfeited this Com-
munication of the divine Favour, by the Enormity of
their Lives, and their Deviation from the true Worlhip,
they had as good a Title to the Infpiration of God, when-
ever he Aiould pleafe to affoid it them, as the Jews had
after their Church v/as inftituted* 7. But as for what
you allege, that Jonah was only an Etlmick^ Prophet, I
think, by your Favoui', that is a great Miftake. For
yonah v/a's principally a Prophet to the fews, and prophe-
lied under Jeroboam the fccond; the King Oi If r act, as is
plain fi'om the 14th Chap, of the 2d Book of Kings ^ where
it is faid, That Jeroboam rcfloredthe Coafi of IJrael, front
the entr'mg in of Hamath unto the Sea of the Flaln^ ac-^
cording tinto the V/ord of the Lord God of Ifrael, 'which he
Jpa!^ by the Hand of his firvant Jonah ^ the Son of Amit-^
taiy the Prophet ^ vjhichwas of Gath-hrphcr, Whether or
no that Prophecy v/hich is there referred to, were ever
written or no, or whether it was only verbal, we can*
not now determine, there being notliing like it in our
Canon of Scripture ; but it is f-om hence very evi-*
dent, that Jonas was a Prophet originally to the Jews.
That he v/as afterwards ient to the Gentiles, was ai
great Favour indeed to that Heathen City of Nrniveh ;
but then he had firft propheikd to the Ifiaelites, and
when they had profited little or nothing by it, he like
^ Chrift

Part II. "i^ith a T H e i s T^ ao^"

Chrift and his Apoftlcs, turned to the Gentiles. B. As
for your Exceptions from Enochs Noahy &c, they lived
before the general Corruption by Idolatry ; and therefore
it is but reafonable to fuppofe, that they living up to the
old true patriarchal Religion, might partake of the divine
Revelation as well as the Jews. And the Prophet Ez^e-
chiel's Prophecy is wholly taken up in fhewing God's
Judgments upon the Jews, and endeavouring to bring
them to a true Senfe of their Sins ; only a Chapter or two
are interpofed to foretell God's Vengeance likewife upon
their Enemies, whofe Wickednefs God's All-wife Provi-
dence had made Ufe of to be a Scourge for the Sins of
his People. And fo for the Prophets Ifaiah and yeremy^
their bemoaning the Calamities of the Heathens of Jaz>er
and Edom^ is not a Prophecy on their Behalf, but on-
ly is a lively Hypotypofis, or poetical Defcription of
the fad Miferies which thofe People fhould undergo, to
hearten up the Jews in their Affliclions, when they iliould
underfland, that God would lay fuch heavy Burthens up-
on their Enemies ,• and to lliew them, that they had no
Reafon to forfake the true Religion, when they iftiould
fee that the Heathens underwent as fevere Judgments as
they. p. And fo again as to the Prophecy of Obadiahi>
whom you affert to have been a Prophet only to the Edo^
mitesy he was a Prophet only to the Ifraelites^ and for
ought appears to the contrary, originally of Jewiili Ex*
tradion ,• for I think little Credit is to be given to the
Jewifli Authors, v/ho would make him an Edo?nitiJh
Profelyte. But that Obadiah was a Prophet to the Jews
only, is. evident by the whole Tenor of his fhort Pro-
phecy, where firft are denounced God's fevere Judgments
againft the Edomites^ the Enemies of the Jews, and his
Vengeance for their Pride and Infolence, and afterwards
the Jews Delivery from, them, and Conquefl: over them.
Bm upon mount Sionfl-Mll be Deliverance^ ojid Jacob fjjall
p^JPlfs their PoffeJJions. And the HoMJe of Jacob jhdl be a
fire^ and the Hopife of Jofeph a Flame y and the Honfe of
Tifcm for Stubble, and they jhall kindle in the?ny and devoftr
■thern-i and there Jljoll not be anj of the Honfe of Efan ; for



the Ldrd hath fpoken ity v. 17. 18. Now does this look
like an Edomitijh Prophet? But this is juft as Sp'mofa^ and
Hobbsj and the Devil are ufed to quote Scripture. 10.
The mofl: confiderable In fiance is that of Balaam^ who
may feem to be an Ethmck^ Prophet, by his living in a
Heathen Country, and his being at the Command of a
Heathen King, and by his predi&ing fo plainly fuch re-
markable Events, which afterwards fo pundually came
to pafs; as the Greatnefs of the Common-wealth oflfraely
the Deftrudion of the Ca^amitip Nations, and the Comb-
ing of the A^eJJJas, But then although this be true, yet
it does not from hence follow^ that the Gift of Prophecy
was common to other Nations, as well as to the Jews^
from this Inftance. Becaufe this Prophecy was deligned
only for the Benefit of the Jewifh Nation^ and although
it was pronounced by the Mouth of a Heathen Man,
yet the Delign and Purpofe of it was for the Good of the
Jews ; and truly it was but a fmall Privilege of the Hea-
thens, to have one of them to pronounce a Prophecy of
God, only in Favour of the Jews, and that too for the
utter Extirpation of themfelves* So that for ought I fee
in this Inflance, BaLuim's Afs v/ould be as good an one al-
together, to prove. That Infpiration is comriion to Brutes
too, becaufe God once made Ufe of his Mouth, to con-
fute his Mafler's Folly. 11. Well ! but Balaam, ycu
fay, was a true and accuflomed Prophet, and not made
Ufe of only by God upon this extraordinary Exigence*
I am afraid, this is an Aflertion, which cannot be fo eafily
made out as faid; and indeed the contrary thereof may be
proved by the Context. For firfl: he a true
Prophet of God, becaufe he made ufe of unlawful Arts,
and as the Scripture fays;, fin^ht for Inchantmems, Chap,
xxiv. I. and what we from the Vulgar^ tranflate the
Rcivards of Divination^ are in tfie Original only Divinati^
ons, (;. e.) Indruments of Divination, conjuring Books,
Wands, or the like. And fecondly, he is called Kofem^
a Diviner or Sorcerer, Jop, xiii. 22. which Word has
always an ill Charader fixt on it in Scripture, notwith-
ilanding Spncf% maincauis the contrary, though without


Pait II. "^sjith i^ T H E 1 s T* 309

any Inflance of it. I have carefully examined all the
Words that I find in Scripture, which come from this
Root, and I do not find any, iinlefs by Way of Meta-
phor, but carry an ill Senfe, and ijgnify unlawful Know-
ledge of future Things; or a lying pretended one; and
as for thofe Places of the Prophets, Ifi. xxiv. 2 5 . Jer.
xiv. 14. Esjech. xiii. 7, and 25. Alicah lii. 6,

Online LibraryWilliam NichollsA Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) → online text (page 19 of 47)